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A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking
A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking
by Samuel Fuller
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 10.29

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A helluva yarn of a life. Go have a copy!, Jan. 14 2004
It was someone else's review that sparked my interest in this book. I even didn't know who this Mr. Fuller was!
Life is short, and I always look for suggestions from elder people: especially those who lived their life with passion and at full speed.
"If there's one reason to recount my personal history, something inspirational that I'd like my life experiences to offer you, the reader, be you young or young at heart, then it would be to encourage you to persist with all your heart and energy in what you want to achieve - no matter how crazy your dreams seems to others. Believe me, you will prevail over all the naysayers (...) who are telling you it can't be done!"
And inspirational indeed it is!
I warmly suggest you to read this book because it is well written, because the yarn makes sense, because it is enthralling, because it tells you a life full of energy, because it'll give you relief when you are in pain, hope when you're dreaming a better future, reasons and support while you fight for your ideals - like Fuller did, and not just in a metaphorical sense - and of course, because it's the author's true experience (i.e. it can be done - don't listen to the naysayers!).
It is possible to roughly divide this book in three parts: part one is when Fuller was able to work as a reporter in New York; part two is the tale of Fuller that chose to volunteer into the Second World War, infantry, that makes about thirty percent of an army and suffers eighty percent of its losses.
Third part (it makes up for more than half the book) tells of Fuller back from the war, when he had quite a successful career as a film director.
I'd just like to quote excerpts from the book, I think this is the best way to lure you into reading it!
A dialogue between Sam Fuller and Hank Wales: " 'Let's you and I write a movie together!' said Hank. 'Got any good stories?'
We both laughed. With all his amazing experiences, Hank Wales was asking me for a yarn. I was thrilled that such a remarkable guy wanted to collaborate with me. But I had a book to finish.
'Look, Hank,' I said, 'I'm writing the great American novel!'
'Everyone is writing the great American novel, Sammy. Forget about greatness. Let's have some fun.' "
"One guy I couldn't forget was Griff, who'd barely survived a land mine explosion. When I first got back to the States, I went down to Washington, D.C., and visited Griff at a veterans' hospital there. He was a basket case, no legs, no arms. Only mumbled words came out of his lips. Believe it or not, we had a wonderful reunion. Griff's eyes sparkled when he saw me. He laughed when I recalled some of the funny shit we'd gone through together in the war. I put my arm around his neck and kissed him, happy to find him alive. I couldn't keep the tears back. Griff didn't want me feeling sorry for him. He was born optimist and refused to accept my pity. Or anyone's. I was trembling when I left the hospital that day.
Griff's invincible spirit would always be an inspiration. I will take his optimism with me to my grave. Life is too precious and far too short to get hooked on negativity. In my scripts and stories, you'll find a helluva lot of characters named Griff. It was my way of saying thanks for his will to survive."
"Young writers and directors, seize your audience (...) as soon as the credits hit the screen and hang on to them! Smack people right in the face with the passion of your story! Make the public love your characters of hate them, but (...) never - never! - leave them indifferent!"
"You young people sitting around watching the (...) television! (...) Go see the world! Throw yourselves into different cultures! You will be always be wealthy if you count your riches, as I do, in adventures, full of life-changing experiences."

Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
by John Stauber
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 15.70
25 used & new from CDN$ 1.28

4.0 étoiles sur 5 I have three words: beautiful, researched, moving., Jan. 14 2004
See, long ago (how long? More than one hundred years...) advertising, and not circulation (that small fee you pay when you buy a magazine or daily newspaper) was already the number one source of income for most newspapers. Is it too difficult to predict that advertisers can exert power over publishers?
And when you learn from this book that 10 out of the top 15 Public Relations firms (already back in 1994) are owned by advertising firms, and you do the math, I believe you'll then find easy to understand why some unpleasant news don't find their way through the "free" press...
This book is extremely well researched; it pushes you to think twice at problems; it is a good handbook on how to spot deceit; it is a source of hope.
It is also somewhat scary and somewhat difficult as well (many quotations save the authors from lawsuits but slow the reading speed; there are topics on international politics; there's some reasoning about chemistry...) so I don't recommend it to the average reader (choose "Trust us, we're experts" by the same authors and "Influence" by Robert Cialdini first, then come back and dig this one).
Quotations follow:
"The radioactive waste from nuclear power plants contains the deadliest substances known. It consists mostly of spent fuel which, although it is no longer suitable for generating power, will remain radioactive and lethal for over 100,000 years."
"The business class dominates government through its ability to fund political campaigns, purchase high priced lobbysts and reward former officials with lucrative jobs."
"When an issue is actually coming up for a vote, [this direct-marketer] turns to his phone banks: 'Phones are for speed. Another advantage of phones is that it's really flexible. You test mail, get results in three weeks, and make adjustments. With phones you're on the phones today, you analyze your results, you change your script and try a new thing tomorrow. In a three-day program you can make four or five different changes, find out what's really working, what messages really motivate people, and improve your response rates'. "
Everybody hates junk mail and junk phone calls. Problem is, this stuff works...
"Every day 20 million Americans tune in and turn on to the Limbaugh talk radio show, which is aired on 650 stations across the United States. However, few people realize the degree of technologically sophisticated orchestration behind Limbaugh's power. [Someone] explained how his coalition used paid ads on the Limbaugh show to generate thousands of citizen phone calls urging legislators to kill health reform. First, Rush would hip us his 'dittohead' fans with a calculated rant against the Clinton health plan. Then during a commercial break listeners would hear a anti-health care ad and an 800 number to call for more information. Calling the number would connect them to a telemarketer, who would talk to them briefly and then 'patch them through' directly to their congressperson's office. The congressional staffers fielding the calls typically had no idea that the constituents had been primed, loaded, aimed and fired at them by radio ads on the Limbaugh show, paid by the insurance industry, with the goal of orchestrating grassroots opposition to health reform".
One wonders (might I add?) how naive and unfit for the job American congresspersons are! They just don't know a trick played on some 20 million fellow citizens!?
Do you know SLAPP lawsuits? They are Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, their goal is to force the defendant to run up huge bills: and shut up, of course. And what happens if lawsuits fail?
"And if lawsuits fail, some anti-environmentalists urge even stronger tactics. Former Interior Secretary James Watt (who in 1996 pleaded guilty to trying to influence a Federal grand jury) told a gathering of cattlemen in June 1990, 'If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used.' ".
There are tens of quotable lines in this book, I just think those above are enough to give you some clue about its relevance.
I tried to imagine how to describe a country where less than half the citizens bother to vote, politicians get massive amounts of money from corporations (why? and what's the compensation?), consumers lemmingly follow what the media tell them. I have three words: apathy, greed, gullibility. This book is a very effective antidote.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
by Robert B Cialdini
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.45

30 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent and eye-opening book. Buy and Read it!, Nov. 7 2003
What are the factors that cause one person to say yes to another person? Which techniques most effectively use these factors to bring about such compliance?
Prof. Cialdini found six such techniques: Reciprocation, Commitment, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity. Author explains why they work, and how to say no to peddlers that want to exploit you using them.
The book is well written, the style is simple, there's ample use of appropriate anecdotes so you can better remember what's most important.
The six techniques are discussed "in terms of their function in the society and in terms of how their enormous force can be commissioned by a compliance professional who deftly incorporates them into requests for purchases, donations, concessions, votes..."; yes, 'votes', so I believe it's an important reason for you, citizen, to learn those six tricks, in your own interest! They exploit our 'automatic behavior patterns' (three pages to explain this, don't worry!), and they make us terribly vulnerable to anyone who does know how they work.
I'll break down how Prof. Cialdini examines the rules, I'll use rule number one, "Reciprocation" as an example.
1 - Definition of the rule: "The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us."
2 - Rationale (why it works and why we, as humans, always stick to it): The development of this behaviour "meant that one person could give something (for example, food, energy, care) to another with confidence that it was not being lost.(...) Sophisticated and coordinated systems of aid, gift giving, defense, and trade became possible, bringing immense benefit to the societies that possessed them."
3 - The rule at work: The Hare Krishna Society began to employ a donation-request procedure that engaged this rule. Before a donation is requested, the target person is given a "gift", say, a flower. The unsuspecting passerby who suddenly finds a flower into his hands is not allowed to give it back. "No, it is our gift to you", says the solicitor, refusing to accept it. Only after the Krishna member has thus brought the force of the reciprocation rule to bear the situation is the target asked to provide a contribution to the society.
4 - Power of the rule: "It is instructive that the reciprocation rule has begun to outlive its usefulness for the Krishnas, not because the rule itself is any less potent socially, but because we have found ways to prevent the Krishnas from using it on us. After once falling victim to their tactic, many travelers are now alert to the presence of (...) solicitors in airports and train stations, adjusting thier paths to avoid an encounter and preparing beforehand to ward off a solicitor's 'gift'. (...) It is a testament to the societal value of reciprocation that we have chosen to fight the Krishnas mostly by seeking to avoid rather than to withstand the force of their gift giving".
5 - How to say no: "If the initial favor turns out to be a device, a trick, an artifice designed specifically to stimulate our compliance with a larger return favor", "here our partner is not a benefactor but a profiteer". "We need only react to it accordingly to be free of its influence. As long as we perceive and define his actions as a compliance device instead of a favor, he no longer has the reciprocation rule as an ally: The rule says that favors are to be met with favors; it does not require that tricks be met with favors".
The advice given in this book works very well. Please learn the six techniques by heart and strive to recognize their use during your everyday life: it is an eye-opening exercise, really worth trying.
If you are an easy mark for the pitches of peddlers and con men of one sort of another, or if you just want to know better how persuasion works, this book is unmissable.
Wonderful book, five stars, go have a copy and read it now!

Take on the Street: What Wall St. and Corporate America Don't Want You to Know / What You Can Do to Fight Back
Take on the Street: What Wall St. and Corporate America Don't Want You to Know / What You Can Do to Fight Back
by Arthur Levitt
Edition: Hardcover
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 étoiles sur 5 I thank Mr. Levitt, the small investors' best friend., Sept. 22 2003
I don't know if the feeling I got back from reading this book was put by Mr. Levitt intentionally or not, I just think that all what this book is about are, in a nutshell:
1 - apologies (i.e. author apologizes because he was not able, as an SEC President, to stop the madness of the speculative bubble that left many small investors bruised);
2 - explanations (why he was not able to stop..., you know what);
3 - remedies (how to avoid making again the same mistakes); and
4 - thanksgiving to all those supporters that let him do a tremendous work during those very difficult years.
How actually difficult were those bubble years? Let's see just an example, in the author's own words:
"When (...) tried to stop abusive practices in the way that many companies accounted for mergers, two of Silicon Valley's VIPs, Cisco Systems Inc. CEO John Chambers and venture capitalist John Doerr, tried to persuade me to rein in the standard-setters. When I refused, they threatened to get "friends" in the White House and on Capitol Hill to make me bend."
One entire chapter is devoted to "Regulation Fair Disclosure", certainly the best success achieved by Mr. Levitt:
"In the summer of 2000, the time had come to give final approval to a controversial new rule, Regulation Fair Disclosure, or Reg FD."
"I think it's important that investors know how the rule came about, and why the securities industry bitterly opposed it. Even today, Wall Street firms would like nothing better than to turn back the clock and either erase Reg FD or water it down."
He tells us of how the Security Industry Association put on a lobbying blitz to urge him to back down; there's and interesting - if worrying - account of how big businesses influence politicians to act against the interest of the people.
This book is five-stars one, it is a must if you are a novice investor in the stockmarket: "By learning about conflicts, motivations, and political favoritism, investors can become more discerning in how they use the power of their money and the power of their shareholder vote. I hope this book makes you a more informed, skeptical, diligent and successful investor."
While I rate it as a three-stars one, if you are an experienced investor (you should already know a lot about what's written here) - so this is why my overall rating is just four stars.
Levitt about brokers:
"How serious are the conflicts between broker and investor? Serious enough that a former top official of a major brokerage firm confessed to me privately that he would not send his mother to a full-service broker."
The stockmarket is no shortcut to riches: investors have responsibilities and have to do their homework:
"In the end, investors must change their behavior, too. You should not follow the herd and grab for shares just because the headline on a press release trumpets an increase in pro forma earnings per share. Conversely, investors should not abandon ship just because a company fails to meet analysts' expectations. It's your responsibility to dig deeper to see what the company's true prospects are. It's a lot safer to own shares in a company that believes in transparency and whose earnings have not been gilded than to own shares in a company that smooths out earnings by manipulating reserves. (...) If you demand more transparency and an end to the numbers game - and you back up those demands with your investment dollars - companies will have little choice but to change their behavior, too."
I have three last questions for the investor-taxpayer-consumer: How much money makes the SEC President? How much money makes the average CEO? How much shareholders' money CEOs put in politicians' pockets?

Pr!: A Social History Of Spin
Pr!: A Social History Of Spin
by Stuart Ewen
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 20.40
35 used & new from CDN$ 7.15

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good book on the subject of PR, April 25 2003
It took to me nearly one month to sit down and write about this book. It has valuable strenghts and some weaknesses.
As a whole, "PR!" makes no easy reading.
It is sold as a "Social History of Spin" and consists of five parts.
Part one tells us about the interest of the author - his attempt to discover the social and historical roots that would explain the boundless role of public relations in our world.
This is the best part of the book, it's fresh, it's written full of enthusiasm, and it feels; Stuart Ewen tells us of his visit with Edward Bernays, one of the most influential pioneers of American public relations.
Ewen describes how he started teaching his course, the "CULT(ure) of Publicity"; how he and his students made the class "look good", "look interesting" in the presence of an unaware journalist, so to meet the reporter's standard of "intriguing".
If you are interested in how spin works, this first part is a must!
Parts two and three really are a social history of spin.
Page after page, Ewen writes a "grim meditation on the human price of industrialization".
Mmmh.
I think this book is very smart. Why? The author brings us examples from the past, and extensively quotes other's sources. Here's an excerpt (as Upton Sinclair summarized it in 1908):
"See, we are just like Rome. Our legislatures are corrupt; our politicians are unprincipled; our rich men are ambitious and unscrupulous. Our newspapers have been purchased and gagged; our colleges have been bribed; our churches have been cowed. Our masses are sinking into degradation and misery; our ruling classes are becoming wanton and cynical".
The big picture is an account of the "business as usual", but, since the examples come from the past and there's no relation with today's firms and people, it's possible to avoid any costly lawsuit.
Eh, eh! Excerpt:
(...) AT&T, in 1903, engaged the services of a recently founded enterprise known as the Publicity Bureau, located in Boston. The Publicity Bureau, a partnership of experienced former newspaper men, was already achieving a reputation for being able to place prepackaged news items in papers around the country, and Frederick P. Fish, president of AT&T, believed that this know-how might be serviceable in the defense of the Bell System's corporate game plan.
James T. Ellsworth, a seasoned journalist with the Bureau, was given the job of steering the AT&T account.
(...) Developing a strategy out of his firsthand experience, Ellsworth took a firts step, which was based on his understanding of newspaper economics. By 1900, advertising - not circulation - was already the prime source of income for most newspapers, and Ellsworth fully comprehended the unspoken power that advertisers could exert over editorial policy and content.
(...) With the lubricant of advertising dollars, Ellsworth was soon providing suddenly compliant editors with a diverse range of packaged articles, already typeset and ready to be placed".
Pity, the extensive use of quotations tends to slow down the reading speed.
Part four looks like an hagiography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I just it think is out of the "Social History of Spin" topic.
Part five is a sum-up of the whole book.
Here is a quotation I appreciate a lot:
"The relationship between publicity and democracy is not essentially corrupt. The free circulation of ideas and debate is critical to the maintenance of an aware public. (...) Publicity becomes and impediment to democracy, however, when the circulation of ideas is governed by enormous concentrations of wealth that have, as their underlying purpose, the perpetuation of their own power. When this is the case - as is too often true today - the ideal of civic participation gives way to a continual sideshow, a masquerade of democracy calculated to pique the public's emotions. In regard to a more democratic future, then, ways of enhancing the circulation of ideas - regardless of economic circumstance - need to be developed.
What is the summing up of this review?
We have here a book worth reading, a smart book that uses history as a tool to understand how spin works right now.
It provides much food for thought - maybe try not to read it when you're tired, but when you are vigilant and with your sense of criticism well aware.""

Trust Us Were Experts
Trust Us Were Experts
by John Stauber
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Thank the authors, buy this book!..., June 13 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Trust Us Were Experts (Hardcover)
...and read it!
There's something disturbing when you turn the last page of this book: the thought that there's no end to human greed. Also, the realization that this greed exploits people's good faith (did anyone say "gullibility"?).
Science, in itself, is good. The problem is, it is not possible to know everything; people are accustomed to believe authorities. Scientists are strong authorities, and most people believe them. What does it happen when corrupted scientists (sometimes even self-proclaimed ones, guys with no background in any field) lie?
I definitely recommend this book as a must-read.
The authors describe the most common propaganda tricks (pages 291 to 299). I'm trying to learn them by heart, and I encourage you to do the same: once you know the trick, it's easier to spot it (and it's more difficult to get fooled). Such techniques include: "Name-calling", "Euphemisms" (also known as "weasel words": "the use of term "strategic misrepresentations" as a euphemism for "lies""), "Fear" ("Few people believe that war is a good thing, for example, but most people can be convinced to support a specific war if they believe that they are fighting an enemy who is cruel, inhuman, and bent on destroying all that they hold dear."), and so on.
This book is not only a description of "how the world wags" (in the words of Bill Moyers) - it offers a solution: that's another reason why to read it is time well spent.
As always when I review a book, I quote some of its parts, those I found the most revealing.
"Other PR consultants specialize in coaching would-be experts and nervous corporate executives in how to present themselves before Congress or on television: what clothes to wear, what color tie, how to sit or stand (spread your feet so your head won't seem rock on camera), what words to use and how to pronounce them, and - when asked a question you don't want to answer - how to say nothing while avoiding awkward phrases like "no comment"."
(Politicians') "campaign promises are empty rhetoric, based not on what the candidates believe but on what their expert pollsters have told them we want to hear."
A quotation by Robert Proctor, in turn quoted by the authors: "Science has a face, a house, and a price; it is important to ask who is doing science, in what institutional context, and at what cost. Understanding such things can give us insight into why scientific tools are sharp for certain types of problems and dull for others."
"In 1996 (...) Texas cattle ranchers sued TV talk show Oprah Winfrey over remarks that one of her guests made regarding the dangers of mad cow disease. The case finally went to trial in 1998, culminating in a victory for Winfrey, after which a second group of cattle ranchers stepped forward and filed a similar lawsuit in a separate jurisdiction. The second lawsuit was finally dismissed in early 2000. By then, Winfrey had spent millions of dollars in attorney fees to defend herself. In Ohio, a consumer group ran afoul of an anti-disparagement law when it discovered that a local egg producer was washing and repackaging old eggs for resale. "We interviewed over 40 employees who knew of the repackaging," says Mark Finnegan, an attorney for the group. "We had workers tell us they found maggots in the eggs:" When the group went public with its finding, it got hit with a lawsuit and ran up large legal bills by the time the lawsuit was dropped.
Within the legal profession, this tactic of suing opponents into the ground is known as a "SLAPP suit" - a "strategic lawsuit against public participation." Often, an actual victory in court is not necessary in order to achieve victory. The real goal is to force the defendant to run up huge legal bills. For someone who lacks Oprah Winfrey's wealth, the costs of mounting a legal defense could literally mean financial bankruptcy, even if the case never goes to trial."
"Of course, there is no way that anyone can be active and informed about every issue under the sun. The world is too complex for that, and our lives are too busy. However, each of us can choose those issues that move us most deeply and devote some time to them. Activism enriches our lives in multiple ways. It brings us into personal contact with other people who are informed, passionate, and altruistic in their commitment to help make the world a better place. (...) Activism, in our opinion, is not just a civic duty. It is a path to enlightment.".

Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel
Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel
by Jean Kilbourne
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 14.44
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Save your soul: read this book!, June 9 2002
I encourage you to buy and read this book. It's a source of reason, enlightenment, passion, love. It's meaningful, revealing. I read it in a few days, subtracting time to my other activities. Each time it has been difficult to stop reading and close the book. If you are going to read only one book this year, choose this one.
This book is focused on a few, fundamental, issues (excerpts are between "quotation marks").
1 - It explains that advertising works. Most people think they are not influenced by advertising. But advertising works best precisely because people don't think it works on them.
"If you are like most people, you think that advertising has no influence on you. This is what advertisers want you to believe. But, if that were true, why would companies spend over $200 billion a year on advertising? Why would they be willing to spend over $250,000 to produce an average television commercial and another $250,000 to air it? If they want to broadcast their commercial during the Super Bowl, they will gladly spend over a million dollars to produce it and over one and a half million to air it. After all, they might have the kind of success that Victoria's Secret did during the 1999 Super Bowl. When they paraded bra-and-panty-clad models across TV screens for a mere thirty seconds, one million people turned away from the game to log on to the Website promoted in the ad. No influence?"
2 - It makes you understand that the message mass media and advertising repeat us moment by moment ("The average American is exposed to at least three thousand ads every day") is that happiness comes from products. Alas, products are only things: no matter how much we love them, they won't love us back. By the way, didn't you ask why - in the car commercials - there are all those cars entering tunnels?
We are sold models impossible to follow - and just wrong. But effortlessly advertised: you are made up to think they're true. Thus, a sense of strain comes. I think that many problems our society faces (high divorce rate, violence, alcoholism, drugs) come from this split. I'm a pharmacist: it's amazing how many tranquilizers I sell every day.
3 - It lets you to realize that advertising often turns people into objects.
"It is becoming clearer that this objectification has consequences, one of which is the effect that it has on sexuality and desire. Sex in advertising and the media is often criticized from a puritanical perspective - there's too much of it, it's too blatant, it will encourage kids to be promiscuous, and so forth. But sex in advertising has far more to do with trivializing sex than promoting it, with narcissism than with promiscuity, with consuming than with connecting. The problem is not that it is sinful, but that it is synthetic and cynical. (...) We never see eroticized images of older people, imperfect people, people with disabilities. The gods have sex, the rest of us watch - and judge our own imperfect sex lives against the fantasy of constant desire and sexual fulfilment portrayed in the media. (...) We can never measure up. Inevitably, this affects our self-images and radically distorts reality. "You have the right to remain sexy", says an ad featuring a beautiful young woman, her legs spread wide, but the subtext is "only if you look like this". And she is an object - available, exposed, essentially passive. She has the right to remain sexy, but not the right to be actively sexual."
4 - Did you know that we are a product? Mass media sell us to advertisers.
"Make no mistake: The primary purpose of the mass media is to sell audiences to advertisers. We are the product. Although people are much more sophisticated about advertising now than even a few years ago, most are still shocked to learn this."
"Through focus groups and depth interviews, psychological researchers can zero in on very specific target audiences - and their leaders. "Buy this 24-year-old and get all his friends absolutely free", proclaims an ad for MTV directed to advertisers. MTV presents itself publicly as a place for rebels and nonconformists. Behind the scenes, however, it tells potential advertisers that its viewers are lemmings who will buy whatever they are told to buy."
5 - I think this book is also valuable because it re-states the ethical principle that there are no shortcuts to riches, no shortcuts to happiness. There are no free lunches.
"Today the promise is that we can change our lives instantly, effortlessly - by winning the lottery, selecting the right mutual fund, having a fashion makeover, losing weight, having tighter abs, buying the right car or soft drink. It is this belief that such transformation is possible that drives us to keep dieting, to buy more stuff, to read fashion magazines that give us the same information over and over again."

The Media Monopoly
The Media Monopoly
by Bagdikian
Edition: Paperback
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 étoiles sur 5 It makes you understand "how it all works"., June 24 2001
Ce commentaire est de: The Media Monopoly (Paperback)
Now you have a map: it's up to you to decide where to go. "The Media Monopoly" gives you all the elements you need to understand how the mass media "world" works. Your decisions are now informed ones.
The author kept his writing short and simple. Well and clearly written, this book raises questions that are to be addressed, sooner or later (you'll find plenty). It explains you why media companies merge; why they have so much power and how they exploit it (to pay less taxes, for instance). How they select editors and journalists: who they fire, who they keep, why - with real cases examined -. It also explains why their big size is dangerous, and it reports a few uncelebrated examples of self-serving behaviour (after p. 39). Here is their power: "In 1949, for example, William Randolph Hearst, head of one large publishing empire, and Henry Luce, chief of another, Time, Inc., were both worried about communism and the growth of liberalism in the United States." Enter "Billy Graham, an obscure evangelist holding poorly attended tent meetings in Los Angeles. (...) Hearst and Luce interviewed the obscure preacher and decided he was worthy of their support. Billy Graham became an almost instantaneous national and, later, international figure preaching anticommunism. In late 1949, Hearst sent a telegram to all Hearst editors: "Puff Graham". The editors did - in Hearst newspapers, magazines, movies, and newsreels. Within two months Graham was preaching to crowds of 350,000." A hint: don't dismiss this example because it took place so many years ago and because it involved an anticommunist: mass media "puff" products, persons, politicians every day.
I have to say that here and there I don't agree with the suggestions or with the opinions of the author. As an example (see p. 41) Mr. Bagdikian somewhat condemns intervention of owners into the content of news. I'm an owner of a (small) publishing house, and of course I do intervene in the content of news! It's my job to do that! I also elsewhere don't agree with the author - alas, this is a review and not a critical essay. My point is: please, as you always should do, keep your critical thought well awake when you read this book. That said, it tells you truths that are awkward for you to deal with. If you want to live better your time, this book is a must.
Note: I'm Italian, so I'm not able to wander through US bookshops and see what's new, what's hot and what's not. I bless Amazon for its software suggested me this book, and fellow readers for their fair reviews helped me buy it.

All Consuming Images: The Politics Of Style In Contemporary Culture
All Consuming Images: The Politics Of Style In Contemporary Culture
by Stuart Ewen
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 29.14
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.02

4.0 étoiles sur 5 A weapon you can use for your own advantage., June 5 2001
This book is a powerful tool. It is eye-opening and thought-provoking. While giving you some insight and a point of view to look around you with a better focus, it lets you better know yourself.
The author examines the power of the image in our society, showing how, with the birth of photography, the image of an object became more important than the object itself. Ewen reminds us how style, images and propaganda affect our lives, by making people dissatisfied with the things they have (houses, cars, razors, sweatshirts), still good and useful and efficient, but lacking in the newest touch -- to make you buy what you don't need.
There are a few ads discussed, so you can learn how to analyze ads on your own.
You'll find how appearances work, so you can get rid of them.
Use your critical thought and read this book with a grain of salt. As an example, the author - to make his point - quotes Karl Marx three times. While Marx, the father of Communism, certainly influenced the lives (and especially the deaths) of millions of people, much research shows that he deliberately collected false data to write his book...
Also (see pages 186-187) the author somewhat condems the spread and use of computers and machines. I just don't agree, here. The advent of computer, for example, made my job as a pharmacist much easier. And I have to thank the Internet and the computing power of machines if I can run my publishing house and if I'm able to get in touch with people around the world who share my interests.
Please remember that this book is a history of the role of image and style in western societies - especially the USA one - and that the author is a Professor: in my opinion, a few chapters are not much interesting, because they don't give the reader information he can use.
I usually underline the books' parts I find more interesting, and I write down in a separate sheet the page number where the underlining occurred and why I did it. This is one of my most underlined books!
A few quotations from the book follow. I think they shed light on its value.
"Every element of politicians' public lives, every utterance, every countenance, every policy statement, every carefully chosen background setting is routinely passed through the image mill. Focus groups are staged, public perceptions painstakingly monitored, chiefly for the purpose of generating what one knowing "New York Times" reporter has termed "more potent propaganda."".
"Crowds have always undergone the influence of illusions. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master."
"To (...) modern architects of persuasion, independent public deliberation was something to be avoided at all cost. In its apparent capacity to advance a worldview in a bedazzling moment, and to stun the public mind into submission, the image was conceived to be an effective antidote to critical thought."
"In a highly mobile society, where first impressions are important and where selling oneself is the most cultivated "skill", the construction of appearances becomes more and more imperative. If style offers a representation of self defined by surfaces and commodities, the media by which style is transmitted tend to reinforce this outlook in intimate detail. They continually offer us visible guideposts, reference points to draw upon, against which to measure ourselves."
"As style becomes information, information becomes style. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in television news. "Newsroom" sets are styled to create the look of a command center, to offer an imagistic sense of being "plugged-in" to what is happening, to convey authority. Television journalists are selected and cultivated for their looks, their screen presence. From an authoritative, medium-shot vantage point, sitting behind a formidable desk, the anchorperson is constructed to transmit an appearance of incorruptibility, and of omniscience. On occasion, the camera moves in for a close-up, to impress a connotation of gravity upon a story, to show the audience that this newsperson "cares". From opening logo to sign-off, all information, all stories are filtered through a veil of appearances."

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